Patina, the second in Jason Reynolds’ middle grade Track/Run series, has just been published in the UK by the brilliant Knights Of and it’s so good I read it in one sitting.
Patina is the fastest runner on the team: she is fiercely independent, sets herself high standards and she’s all about the win. Her life, however, has not been easy. Her father died when she was young, her mother is a double amputee, and she lives with her aunt and uncle. Shortly after moving to an exclusive school where she feels very different from the other girls, she finds out from her track team coach that she’ll be facing the additional challenge of competing in a relay race. Will Patina take it all in her stride or will she struggle to work with her team mates in order to win?
Jason Reynolds is such a truthful storyteller: he shines a spotlight on issues that many of us have never had to face or consider. Writing in the first person, he creates an immediate intimacy by sharing Patina’s background in the opening paragraphs, and he infuses his writing with her sassiness and fierce love/self-imposed responsibility for her family. Shaped by her life experiences, Patina learns over the course of the story how to better deal with personal disappointment. She also experiences the benefits of working as a team and begins to understand that she doesn’t have to carry the load all by herself, becoming more mentally resilient as a result. There are quite a few moments in the book that made me stop and think, particularly with regards to Patina settling into school, but 2 parts of the story really stood out for me. Firstly, the importance of Patina braiding her sister’s hair every Sunday and secondly, when her uncle creates a safe environment for her to finally release her emotions.
While Patina is part of a series, readers aged around 10+ can definitely read it as a stand-alone. That said, the first book, Ghost, is just as good and will give you more of an insight into the brilliant Coach and the other diverse characters. If you want to find out more about Ghost, our review is here: http://www.merrybookworm.co.uk/fiction/ghost-by-jason-reynolds/.
Author: Jason Reynolds
Cover Art: Selom Sunu
Publisher: Knights Of Media
Paperback: 256 pages